QUESTION: An owner requested over 4,000 documents which we provided. Does she have the right to share those records with others??
ANSWER: It depends on who the “others” are and for what purpose. Since all members have the right to inspect records, there is nothing improper about members sharing records with other members.
Improper Purpose. Where your homeowner can get herself into trouble is if she uses those records for an improper purpose such as (i) using them for personal gain, (ii) altering the records to defame others, (iii) selling them, or (iv) using them for any other purpose not reasonably related to her interest as a member.
Damages. If an owner uses records for an improper purpose, the association can take legal action against him and is entitled to reasonable attorneys’ fees and costs if it prevails. (Civ. Code §1365.2(e)(3))
QUESTION: Can an association turn a fine over to a collection agency if an owner refuses to pay?
ANSWER: Only if the fine is first converted into a judgment. Since collection agencies cannot practice law, they cannot go into court to make an association’s monetary penalties collectible. The association needs to first sue the owner in small claims court (up to $5,000) or superior court (over $5,000). If the court determines the fines are reasonable, the association will receive a money judgmentthat can then be turned over to a collection agency. Most collection agencies work on a contingency fee basis and charge between 25% and 40% on any sums recovered.
EV CHARGING STATION
QUESTION: I am a townhome owner and would like to install an EV charging station in my private garage. Do I still need HOA approval?
ANSWER: All of the owner requirements in the Davis-Stirling Act apply to installation of charging stations in common areas or exclusive use common areas. If your garage is solely owned by you as your separate property then the association arguably has no interest in the installation of a charging station in your garage.
Licensed and Insured. However, the association has an interest since your townhouse is connected to other townhouses and an improper installation could result in a fire. So as to protect your neighbors, the association has a legitimate interest in ensuring that you hire a licensed and insured contractor who installs the charging station pursuant to building codes.
Yippy Dogs. A magic solution to “yippy Dogs” is Silencer Pro. It’s amazing. It runs on a battery or electricity and costs about $90.00. It emits a sound that calms the dog and it doesn’t bark. Absolutely heavenly! It works from your house across to the neighbor’s dog too (within range) Amazing. -Mary J.
Insurance #1. What associations do not realize is that carrying minimum limits of insurance does not immunize them from judgments in excess of policy limits. Assume an owner pulls out of the parking garage and his view is blocked by the association’s hedge that exceeds the city ordinance by a foot. Assume he hits a neurosurgeon riding his bike and turns him into a quadriplegic. The likely judgment against the association would far exceed statutory policy limits and a large special assessment would follow. As you indicated in your newsletter, the cost of insurance is quite reasonable. A $15 million policy for a 20-unit condo would cost $1,500 to $2,000, which is less than what owners pay for auto insurance. -Joel Meskin of McGowan Program Administrators
Insurance #2. What about California Earthquake Authority insurance? If every homeowner carried $50,000 in loss assessment insurance, a small HOA of 20 units could cover $1,000,000 in damage without carrying earthquake insurance, thus keeping the HOA fees down. -Mike G.
RESPONSE: While California Earthquake Authority Insurance is important for all owners to carry, there are risks if the association does not itself carry earthquake insurance and instead relies entirely on the CEA’s loss assessment coverage.
1. CEA loss assessment will only pay for residential structure damage. There is no coverage for pools, clubhouses, detached garages, patio coverings, walkways, driveways, fences, etc.
2. It will not pay for bringing residential structures up to building code standards.
3. It will not pay for special assessments to cover bad debt (caused by members who walk away from their units).
4. Relying on owners to carry loss assessment coverage is risky. Many or most owners will not carry it, thereby providing limited resources for rebuilding after an earthquake.
5. The maximum coverage for CEA Loss Assessment is $75,000 and the deductible is 15% of the coverage amount.
Because of these limitations, boards would be ill-advised to forgo earthquake insurance and rely solely on owners purchasing earthquake loss assessment coverage.
Thank you to Patrick Prendiville of the Prendiville Insurance Agency; Mike Rey of Rey Insurance Services; and Tim Cline of the Timothy Cline Insurance Agency, Inc. for their assistance.
55+ Community. Although I am a manager in Minnesota, I enjoy reading the Davis-Stirling Newsletter and it is at the top of my reading list each week. Many of the issues are the same and I feel thankful that I work here in MN every time I read of the latest legislative lunacy being proposed in California. However, I believe that your article from today may have contained a factual error. My understanding of HOPA is that at least 80% of the units must be occupied by at least one person 55 or older, not that 80% of all the residents must be 55 or older. There could be quite a difference between the two standards in terms of what % of the residents are 55 or older. -David S.
RESPONSE. Your understanding is correct. the Fair Housing Act requires that at least one occupant in 80% of the units be 55 or older. Other occupants of those units can be under 55. In addition, the association must publish and enforce policies and procedures to ensure the association meets those requirements.
NO NEWSLETTER. Sorry, no newsletter next week. Nathalie Ross, my Director of Client Relations said I could take the day off so I jumped at it! I will be celebrating the birth of our country and all those God-given rights we too often take for granted.
“Legal solutions through knowledge, insight and experience.” We are friendly lawyers. When your association needs counsel, call us at (800) 464-2817 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.